Gray hair is something many women fear. They stand in the mirror ready to pluck a silvery invader. If an army of gray appears, a woman can rely on that bottle of dye to beat that old monster.
I understand their reasoning. Throughout the years, aging has been portrayed in magazines and movies as unappealing. But is it?
Lady Gaga, Kelis, Kelly Osbourne, Kate Moss -- they've all been seen sporting gray hair. Intentionally. Some of them dyed and weaved in the once-scorned shade. Fashion blogs in New York and California have shown teens following suit.
It seems that gray is ready to come out and play.
The fashion world, usually sickly obsessed with youth and how to preserve it, seems to be embracing the shades of gray, yellow and white often associated with aging.
Hanna Gibbs, 22, a stylist at Hair Salon in Kansas City, Mo., who colors her hair often, doesn't plan to dabble in the gray area.
"The only way to be distinguished with gray hair is to actually have gray hair. I love gray hair. I always say the day I will stop coloring my hair is the day I go gray."
Necia Gamby, 56, a Kansas City mother and grandmother, has sported a head full of lovely, gray dreadlocks for years. She says the trend represents an awakening.
"My gray hair is mine. It's earned. I'm saving money and making a statement. It says I have arrived, and I'm embracing myself. As for young people wearing gray hair, it's getting cool to be older, natural, wiser, experienced and established. Gray hair represents that."
But Anita Graves, owner of a Kansas City hair color haven, Dyeabolique, says gray is a passing hair trend like the punky pinks and blues.
"I really don't think it will last very long," she says of dying one's hair gray. "The hair has to be pre-lightened so far off its base, I think once someone tries it they will realize it might not be a good idea."
She does, however, think this trend will create a pathway for people who are dealing with gray hair, to let it grow in naturally.
"If you're ready to embrace it, you can see it out there in the magazines and runways, and it makes it easier. That being said, I have a lot of clients that wanted to go gray and come back to get rid of it. It just depends on where you're at in your life."
She's right. It is about personal style. But I don't think the statement attached to this trend will fade. Aging is beautiful, and it's also a blessing. It looks as though the fashion world is accepting the fact: Julia Roberts, Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston are all on the cover of September issues -- the most coveted month for fashion mags. Those women may not be gray, but they're all older than 40.
They make getting older look sexy and adventurous. And it doesn't stop with them. Add Janet Jackson, Madonna, Demi Moore, Meryl Streep. The list can go on and on with beautiful older women.
One of the latest issues of Vogue features the fabulous model Kristen McMenamy, 43, in a fashion spread. Her silvery tresses flowing down her back, she looks better than some teen queens. Who knew? I thought only Helen Mirren could make gray look that good.
"A lot of us have grown up with a message that says you have to look forever young," Necia says. "But here they are doing the opposite. Young people are accepting this early. It's like they are sending us a message that it's OK to be who you are. No one can tell you how to be or look. I love when these kinds of things happen."